Imagining a Blackhawks filled WrestleMania 34 weekend
Happy WrestleMania Day!
The Chicago Blackhawks season is over. The Blackhawks finished with the seventh-worst record in the league, and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Since the Hawks are out of the playoffs and this season wasn’t that much fun, I decided it’d be fun to do something a bit out of the norm for Second City Hockey.
I got to together with Robert O’Neill, who is a co-manager at SB Nation’s Big East Coast Bias and Team Speed Skills as well as a pro wrestling contributor at Barbers Chair Network, to talk about WrestleMania 34, which is Sunday at the Superdome in New Orleans, and compare Blackhawks players to WWE wrestlers.
We went down the Blackhawks roster and tried to match each player with a WWE wrestler. If we couldn’t find one that we felt matched up quite right, we went with an NXT (WWE’s developmental program) person. NXT New Orleans was Saturday night, but we wanted to save this post for after the Blackhawks’ season officially ended. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a spot for Daniel Bryan, Cedric Alexander, Seth Rollins, Finn Bàlor or Nia Jax.
You can check out WrestleMania 34 at 4 p.m. on WWE Network, for free as a new subscriber. Also, make sure to follow SB Nation’s wrestling site, Cageside Seats.
Here. We. Go.
B: Usos, Smackdown Live! tag team champions. Both had some success early in their career, and now they’re putting on career performances.
R: New Day. He’s a fun guy who clearly likes to (Arty) Party!
The Usos, New Day and the Bludgeon Brothers will compete in a triple threat match for the Smackdown Live! tag team championship.
R: Tye Dillinger. He’s Canadian and has spent most of his career in the minors and might be good at some point, but early returns aren’t very promising.
B: Rob is right on the money on this one.
Dillinger will compete in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The winner will receive a trophy depicting Andre, but nothing else really.
R: Styles. He’s the most important part of the team and we saw what happened without him around.
B: I originally had Seth Rollins for Crawford, but Styles is the right pick here. They both are phenomenal. Charlotte would also work here.
Styles is the WWE champion and will face Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura with the title on the line.
B: Despite the size disparity, I’m going with 6-foot-8, 385-pound Braun Strowman. DeBrincat and Strowman are both the most popular guys on the roster by a mile.
R: Going with an NXT guy on this. DeBrincat is Velveteen Dream. Young, already full of talent, and still going to hit a next level and become a household name.
Strowman will compete with a mystery partner against Cesaro and Sheamus for the Raw tag team championship. Dream was in the NXT North American title match.
R: Tyler Bate. Both are young and eager to prove themselves on a bigger stage than before.
B: I’ll go with Sonya Deville on this. She’s part of the fraction Absolution and since her surprise call up from NXT last November has slowly started to improve.
Bate is a former United Kingdom champion and could be in the men’s battle royal, while Deville will be in the women’s battle royal.
B: WWE stands for... Walk With Ejdsell! He’s Elias.
R: Walk With Ejdsell!
Elias the guitar playing Macho Man meets Seth Rollins lookalike type will be in the men’s battle royal.
R: Bobby Roode. Duclair made his name with another team and hasn’t quite been as good since coming to Chicago, but you can tell fans really like him and he’ll be around for a while.
B: Same here, I’ll go with Roode. Hopefully, if the Hawks resign him he’ll have a glorious season.
Roode will compete in a fatal four-way for the United States championship against Randy Orton (c), Jinder Mahal and Rusev.
R: It’s kind of jarring to see how many goalies the Blackhawks have used this season when it’s all in front of you like this. Forsberg is Baron Corbin because he’s had a couple nice stretches and good tools, but he’s struggled to put it all together consistently.
B: Once again, Robert nails this.
Corbin will also be in the men’s battle royal, which he won as a surprise call up at WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
B: Carmella. Gustafsson signed a two-year extension out of nowhere and Carmella is Ms. Money in the Bank. Gustafsson stepped up after inking the deal with 11 points, and Carmella is on the cusp of cashing in her briefcase for a guaranteed title match. Since she’s the first Ms. Money in the Bank, it’s almost set in stone that she’ll win.
R: Pete Dunne. We’ve seen a bit of what he can accomplish, but it would be nice to see him around more consistently.
Dunne is the United Kingdom champion and competed and lost in the inaugural NXT North American title match Saturday at NXT New Orleans. Carmella will be in the women’s battle royal, but she’s been teasing cashing in her briefcase at WrestleMania.
B: Bludgeon Brothers. Hayden carrying a mallet would be cool?
R: I definitely think you can make Hayden either one of the Bludgeon Brothers. That dude lays down hits like it’s nobody’s business.
B: Alexis Bliss. No one saw Bliss or Hillman has much of a prospect, but slowly but surely they’ve taken themselves to the top of the heap. This comparison might be better fit for next year as we see Hillman’s first season in Chicago.
R: Since Hillman just recently made his NHL debut, he would technically be Ronda Rousey in this, right?
Bliss will defend her Raw women’s championship against Nia Jax. Rousey, a former UFC champion, will be in a mix tag team match with Kurt Angle, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist wrestler and WWE Hall of Famer, against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
B: Hinostroza is a local boy from Bartlett. You know who also is a Chicagoland native and small in stature? Mustafa Ali, a former Bolingbrook police officer.
Vinnie = Bayley https://t.co/bA3R3kjXLH— SCOTT FOSTER CITY HOCKEY (@2ndCityHockey) February 26, 2018
R: He’s got to be Mustafa Ali! Suburban connection is a strong one.
Ali will compete in the Cruiserweight championship against Curtis Alexander. Bayley’s gimmick is that she’s a nice girl who likes to give hugs. She’s in the women’s battle royal.
B: Triple H. He’s not playing anymore, but was great when he was. He also was always overlooked as one of the best players because of those around him.
R: Undertaker. He’s not around much anymore, but the memories of utter dominance will last forever.
The Undertaker, 53, hasn’t competed since last year’s WrestleMania when he lost to Roman Reigns in the main event. The WWE is building a possible match between the Undertaker, who is 23-2 at WrestleMania, against John Cena.
R: Jurco played for the Blackhawks’ biggest rivals before coming to Chicago? EC3.
B: Jurco isn’t in the top 1 percent like EC3, so I’ll go with good brother Luke Gallows. Gallows was in WWE in the mid- to late-2000s before joining rival wrestling companies.
EC3 competed in NXT’s North American championship match. He doesn’t seem suited for NXT, and should be up on the main roster by Summerslam. Gallows is in a tag team with Karl Anderson, but both men will be in the men’s battle royal.
B: Mojo Rawley, who had a cup of coffee with the NFL team up north, won the men’s battle royal last year and hasn’t really been given much of a push since. The same goes for Kampf after signing with the Hawks. He made the roster, but hasn’t really produced in his role since.
R: Cesaro. This is weird, but in his short time I’ve found Kampf to be pretty solid all-around, not unlike the Swiss Superman.
B: Super talented, but people don’t like him because of past activities and being pushed by management. Yup, that’s Roman Reigns.
R: Miz. Excellent at his craft, and people find him annoying. Although, Roman Reigns is another good one, but I don’t want to pick the same person as you over and over. Also, I was close to just picking Kane, the wrestler and future Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, but that would have been lazy.
Reigns will face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal championship. UFC president Dana White has said Lesnar told him he plans to return to the UFC, so it’s pretty much a given Reigns will win. The Miz will defend the Intercontinental championship in a triple threat match against Seth Rollins and Finn Bàlor.
B: This one was tough. Duncan Keith is a great defenseman, but he had a really tough season. But when he’s good, oh boy is he good. I’ll put Randy Orton here. You know exactly what you’re going to get from Orton every match.
R: Shinsuke Nakamura. When Keith is good, he’s one of the best around.
R: Martinsen is another young guy who has been impressive, so I’m glad we’re including NXT people. I think he reminds me a lot of one of the Authors of Pain.
B: Killian Dain. The Beast of Belfast nearly won the men’s battle royal last year and might be it in again this year. Like AoP, he’s a big dude in NXT.
Dain was also part of the NXT North American championship match, while AoP lost the Dusty Rhodes Classic Final with the NXT tag team titles on the line. Both seem like viable options to be post-WrestleMania call ups.
B: The WWE out of nowhere decided to put Jinder Mahal in the main event picture in 2017. There was no real build to it, it just sort of happened. The same goes for Murphy, who the Hawks acquired from Arizona and declared him a solution to for an aging defensive corps. Both have had mixed reviews.
R: I would also go with Jinder.
R: Sami Zayn. They’re both Canadian and seem generally upbeat, even though Oesterle is far younger.
B: Similar thinking, but I’ll go with Apollo.
Zayn will tag with Kevin Owens against Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon. If Owens and Zayn win, they’ll be rehired to SmackDown. Apollo is the main attraction for the Titus WorldWide group and will be in the men’s battle royal.
B: Let’s be honest, you forgot Rozsival was on the roster didn’t you? The same can be said for Big Show, who may or may not be retired now.
R: I absolutely forgot Rozsival was still on the roster. He’s 100 percent Big Show.
R: Big Cass. Both are fairly large humans who are injured.
B: Chad Gable. He’s young and has received somewhat of a push by being paired with a veteran like Shelton Benjamin. Sounds like Rutta to me.
Gable and Benjamin are both former wrestlers for the University of Minnesota and will be in the men’s battle royal.
B: Cesaro. Saad is a top player and so is Cesaro despite being in a tag team right now.
R: Kassius Ohno. He was with the Hawks for a while, left, and came back better than ever.
Ohno is an NXT guy, who did not compete at NXT New Orleans so he could be in the men’s battle royal.
B: Rusev. Both guys haven’t quite cracked through the top tier, but have loads of talent to do so very soon.
R: I’m also going to go with Rusev. Happy Rusev Day, everyone!
B: A former champion that has lost his touch so he’s being paired with a better worker. Sheamus = Seabrook.
R: Matt Hardy. He’s not as good as he was 5 years ago, but he still finds a way to be entertaining every once in a while and people love him.
Hardy is woken or broken however you want to look at it. He’s in the men’s battle royal, but will probably be pushed into a mid-card title picture later this year.
B: Dolph Ziggler. Both guys have good hair and have a solid work rate that has fallen off in recent years. When you look back at both of their careers, you’ll be surprised at just how good they were.
R: I didn’t know where I was going to use Dolph Ziggler, because I didn’t want to put that burden on anyone, but yeah.
Ziggler could have walked away from the WWE like Sharp is with the NHL, but he signed a new contract. He’s in the men’s battle royal.
B: Nobody is ready for Sikura! He’s Asuka.
R: He’s a great unknown, but has a ton of hype around him. I wish this was still 2017 so I could say Braun Strowman, but given how things currently are, I guess I would compare him to someone like Liv Morgan or Mandy Rose.
Morgan and Rose are both in the women’s battle royal.
B: John Cena. Both are the “franchise player” and when someone things about the Hawks or WWE, they think about these two figures at the top even though their game has slipped in recent years.
R: Sasha Banks. He’s the boss, after all.
Banks is in the women’s battle royal, even though she should be in a singles match against Bayley. Look for those two to have one of those “WrestleMania moments” in the battle royal.